Barbara VanDenburgh

Barbara VanDenburgh
Tomatometer-approved critic
Publications: Arizona Republic

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
3/5 83% Just Mercy (2020) With the exception of Foxx's moving performances, "Just Mercy" delivers little you can't get from simply watching the news. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 10, 2020
2.5/5 42% The Song of Names (2019) Far from heightening the sense of mystery, the flashback construction renders the present-day dramatically inert, giving fine actors little to do save deliver exposition. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 2, 2020
3.5/5 95% Little Women (2019) Watching Greta Gerwig's 2019 "Little Women" is like visiting an old friend for tea. The conversation may not surprise, but that's what makes the company a warm comfort. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 25, 2019
5/5 81% A Hidden Life (2019) "A Hidden Life" is less a story than an experience, a spiritual journey made accessible through light and sound. Malick doesn't transcend cinema. He sanctifies it. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 19, 2019
3.5/5 83% Queen & Slim (2019) Fueled by pain and anger, fortified by strength and resolve, "Queen & Slim" is a righteous movie - one that's angry about America's refusal to confront the sins of racism and mournful about the enduring legacy of slavery. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 26, 2019
3/5 77% Frozen II (2019) It adds up to a marginally more interesting experience than the first "Frozen," but this sequel would have benefited from venturing a touch further into the unknown. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 20, 2019
2/5 81% The Report (2019) If only anything committed to screen here were memorable. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2019
3.5/5 92% Ford v Ferrari (2019) It's behind the wheel with Miles that "Ford v Ferrari" becomes a well-oiled entertainment machine, a thrill ride with a driver's-eye view of the world's most exciting track. Everything that doesn't work is just a distant speck in the rearview mirror. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 13, 2019
2/5 46% Last Christmas (2019) It fails to work in spectacular fashion. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 7, 2019
3.5/5 96% First Love (Hatsukoi) (2019) "First Love" might not ultimately mean much, but its wily mix of colorful elements - romance, organized crime, slapstick and ultra-violence - makes for a bracingly weird cinematic experience. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 9, 2019
3.5/5 88% Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019) Brittany is funny and authentic, but she can also be prickly and stubborn, even hard to like. You know, the way real people are. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 28, 2019
2.5/5 23% The Kitchen (2019) "The Kitchen" requires Scorsese levels of charisma to work, and only McCarthy comes close out of sheer professionalism. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 7, 2019
3/5 89% Tel Aviv on Fire (2019) It mostly works, so long as you don't ask too much of it or look too closely. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 31, 2019
4/5 85% Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019) Tarantino may have set the finish line at 10, but after watching "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," it's impossible to believe he only has one more good movie in him. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 25, 2019
3.5/5 83% Midsommar (2019) Aster is a filmmaker still defining his voice, and despite the growing pains, "Midsommar" is an intriguing step in its evolution. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 1, 2019
3.5/5 97% The Proposal (2019) "The Proposal" makes for a fascinating and not-a-little-morbid piece of artistic trolling. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
3.5/5 93% The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019) "Last Black Man" is two hours of a feeling, one that it can't sustain through beauty alone... Still, "Last Black Man" pulses with undeniable energy and the promise of other, even better films to come. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 11, 2019
3/5 80% Late Night (2019) [A] formulaic and uneven comedy given a needed boost by a commanding central performance. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 10, 2019
2/5 57% Aladdin (2019) It all has the air of a community theater troupe performing in a Disney parade, overeager in the exaggerated artifice. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted May 23, 2019
2.5/5 72% All Is True (2019) How do you make a legend as imposing as Shakespeare flesh? "All Is True" suggests you can't, if not even Branagh, Dench, McKellen, et al. can bring him down to earth. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted May 14, 2019
4.5/5 90% John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019) "The Matrix" is in its DNA, and like "The Matrix," "John Wick" elevates action not by apologizing for it but embodying it, and embedding in its thrills meditations on the nature of existence. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted May 14, 2019
3.5/5 96% Hail Satan? (2019) As a study in the art of media manipulation and civic trolling, "Hail Satan?" is informative and entertaining. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted May 1, 2019
76% Hotel Mumbai (2019) There were innumerable ways to tell the story of the Mumbai attacks responsibly, and with greater emotional punch... Instead, the filmmakers leaned into the body count. It's technically competent filmmaking - just not ethically. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 27, 2019
4/5 94% The Mustang (2019) That sophistication in filmmaking and storytelling wins out in the end. The answers don't come easy, and when they do they're more than a little heartbreaking. "The Mustang" is all the better for it. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 20, 2019
3/5 78% Captain Marvel (2019) Its mid-'90s setting gives the film retro flair, and its girl-power soundtrack, blasting Garbage and Hole, will win over any '90s girl's heart. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 5, 2019
2/5 70% Isn't It Romantic (2019) The problem isn't that it pokes fun at romantic comedies, it's that it itself isn't a terribly good one. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 13, 2019
2.5/5 61% Alita: Battle Angel (2019) It's a whole lot of silly, which is why it's even more disappointing that the plot is so rote, a hodgepodge of overfamiliar subplots that culminates in a purposefully unsatisfying ending that's optimistically angling for a sequel. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 13, 2019
3.5/5 89% Arctic (2019) Though the journey is well executed and the tension sustained, the obstacles are so familiar to the genre - inclement weather, tricky rock formations, grumpy bears - they can feel ordinary. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
3.5/5 85% The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) Speaking of songs, steel yourself for another insidious earworm. Like the movie, it's obvious and overeager, a piece of commercial pop art manufactured within an inch of its life. But it's also not wrong, and will very much get stuck inside your head. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 6, 2019
2.5/5 74% Destroyer (2018) If there's a powerful performance here, it's obscured by the ludicrous Kabuki mask of pain in which Kidman is outfitted. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 16, 2019
4/5 92% Cold War (Zimna wojna) (2018) "Cold War" devastates all the same, and its meditations on what might have been and what could never be haunt long after the gutting final frame. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 15, 2019
1.5/5 19% The Aspern Papers (2019) Landais certainly brought little cinematic verve to "The Aspern Papers," telling the story largely in turgid literary voiceover lifted directly from the original source material. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 7, 2019
3.5/5 92% Bumblebee (2018) Maybe the key to getting a good Transformers movie this whole time was simply hiring a woman to write the screenplay. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 19, 2018
2/5 65% Aquaman (2018) There is the occasional cool visual and clever world-building detail, like jellyfish couture and eye-popping underwater physics, but "Aquaman" never fully commits to its lunacy. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 17, 2018
4/5 58% The House That Jack Built (2018) To dismiss "Jack" out of hand in offense is not just to miss von Trier's point, but to prove it. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 16, 2018
4.5/5 97% Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) It breathes youthful life into a tired franchise and makes the smartest transition yet of characters from the comics to the big screen with clever animation and thoughtful storytelling. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 13, 2018
3.5/5 96% Becoming Astrid (Unga Astrid) (2018) Though "Becoming Astrid" is unflinching in its depictions of Astrid's pain, it does not wallow. A shallower story would be rife with villains, but there are none here. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 29, 2018
3.5/5 80% At Eternity's Gate (2018) Dafoe might not make logical sense in the role, but he commands it, his demon-haunted eyes communicating the artist's inner turmoil during the fertile creative period in the south of France that presaged his final unraveling. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 19, 2018
4/5 91% Widows (2018) This is the most fun McQueen has ever been - not a high bar to clear, given his particular brand of misery porn - but that fun still comes with a bullet. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2018
2.5/5 82% Instant Family (2018) Too well-meaning and sincere to truly dislike, but too frictionless and manufactured to do right by the complicated scenario. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 14, 2018
3/5 78% Green Book (2018) It would be more insulting if Ali and Mortensen weren't milking the formula for all it's worth, gifting the film unearned grace with their magnetism. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 14, 2018
4/5 88% What They Had (2018) "What They Had"... achieves a delicate balance of tone, finding the humor in the irrepressibly sad, the love in daily toil, the soul in a disease that seeks to obliterate it. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 23, 2018
2.5/5 72% Galveston (2018) Despite its ostensive seriousness, "Galveston" is a tepid crime drama without talons sharp enough to sink into the audience. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 15, 2018
4.5/5 87% First Man (2018) A sweeping biographical drama of Armstrong's decade-long march to the moon, test by grueling test, told without romance from the pilot's-eye view. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 8, 2018
3/5 52% Papillon (2018) Hunnam and Malek acquit themselves finely, neither trying to imitate his predecessor. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 21, 2018
2/5 49% The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018) It's criminal to cast this many talented people - Gillian Anderson! Fred Melamed! Jane Curtin! Paul Reiser! - and not write them any jokes that don't rely on shock gags, toilet humor and cliché social observations. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 27, 2018
4/5 52% Equalizer 2 (2018) Betrayal, loss, grief, redemption - it's the stuff great characters are built on. And it makes all those thrilling knife fights and broken bones actually mean something. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 19, 2018
2.5/5 62% Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018) Perhaps a vacation would serve this tired franchise well. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 13, 2018
2/5 32% The Catcher Was A Spy (2018) "The Catcher Was a Spy" only ever penetrates the surface - of Berg's psyche, of heroism in the face of evil, of America's pastime - so that historical events ostensibly thrilling are rendered rote. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 21, 2018
4/5 100% Summer 1993 (Estiu 1993) (2018) It's a film entirely lacking in pomp, but there's a certain bravado in its delicate reservation. A tender and spare meditation on family unfurls in the stillness of a sleepy, sun-soaked Spanish summer. - Arizona Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 14, 2018